A review of Runrig at their 4oth Anniversary,’Party on the Moor’ at Muir of Ord, August 10th. 2013.
A crowd of biblical proportions gathered on the moor, their diversity a reflection of the generations touched by the music of this band who’s legacy has spanned four decades.
Devotees from all around the world were united by their appreciation and loyalty to the band, the atmosphere was charged and expectant for this ‘Party on the Moor’
Opening with a back catalogue of favourites, after all we were here to celebrate 40 years of music. The band consistently kept things fresh with new arrangements, Big Sky, Road Trip and May Morning with front man Bruce Guthro stirring the audience with cries of Alive again !
“The Highlands are truly the Heart of Scotland” and with that welcomed remark from Guthro and timely Pyro techniques they burst us into ‘Dance on America’ that had everyone reeling.
The divine Julie Fowlis joined Rory Macdonald for a goosebump inducing ‘Faileus air an airigh’. Other special guests introduced were Duncan Chisholm on fiddle who joined the band for a stripped back traditional set of ‘Summer walkers’.
Bruce Guthro continued it was a pleasure and privilege to be making music with a band who’s legacy is so far reaching, from this they flowed into book of ‘Golden Stories’ in which they shared an affectionate memory montage of images from 1973 with ticket price for the dance band at 50p.
A nostalgic Rory Macdonald reminisced of their youthful beginnings forty years ago “if anyone had told me that we’d still be doing this forty years later and loving it, I’d never have believed them” Capturing the sentiment they rolled into a crowd pleasing and iconic ‘Every River’ to which the Highland Audience duly sang and swayed along to.
Runrig Concerts aren’t complete without a drum call led by Iain Bayne that stirs the Celtic blood like a battle cry. Admittedly I almost put my back out doing my Beyonce to the rhythm.
There had been much speculation that former front man Donnie Munro would be reunited on stage with the band. This was confirmed by a rousing welcome proving that there are probably more Donnie Munro fearing folk in the Highlands than there are God fearing !
Sharing the stage for two numbers a gracious Bruce Guthro acknowledges that no one sings the Gaelic ballads like Donnie Munro and gave him the stage. Grateful for the opportunity he expressed his gratitude to the band and fans in English and Gaelic for the opportunity to share in the journey before he opened up to a heart wrenching anthem from the heartland ‘An Ubhal as Àirde’ with soaring harmonies from Calum and Rory Macdonald it was an emotional reminder that lingered in the air, tissues were handed to the poor dear to my right.
The band regrouped and picked up the pace with ‘Alba’ and ‘Beat the drum’ to which they were met on stage with the full Inverness British legion pipe band that only fuelled the already patriotic atmosphere.
Ending on ‘Going Home’ the seasoned Runrig fans knew that this was not nearly the end and sure enough following chants of “Runrig” and trickles of “Happy Birthday” through the crowd, front man Bruce Guthro came back out to engage the masses with a sentimental ‘Hearts of olden glory’
As always an understated Malcolm Jones mesmerised with his instrumental and the band hammered out a further five classics building the three hour gig to a frenzied climax !
With a promise of more music to come, the band past a present united at the front of the stage for a spirited ‘And we’ll sing’
It was one of those concerts where you felt that you had witnessed something special not only in the celebrations, but in the sharing of a journey with a band.
Runrig have evolved over the four decades, yet have stayed true to their roots. Ambassadors for a language in decline and story tellers of a generation who leave a legacy of songs for the journey shared. A band who truly know what it is to Protect and Survive …..
Photos by Roddy McKenzie, click to contact the photographer.